‘Touch and Go’ is a classic farce, a clandestine tale written by Derek Benfield, a Bradford-born playwright and actor. Benfield wrote more than 30 stage plays and was a well-known face on TV, with roles including Walter Greenhalgh in ‘Coronation Street’, and as Patricia Routledge’s husband in BBC TV’s detective series, ‘Hetty Wainthropp’.
This riotously funny, two-and-a-quarter hour show is being presented by Serial Productions at the Old Mill Theatre on the corner of Mends Street and Mill Point Road in South Perth.
The performances are every Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday night at 7.30 pm from Friday 6th until Saturday 21st August. There are matinées on Sunday 8th and 15th August at 2.00 pm.
In 2011, ‘Serial Productions’ was formed by a group of friends with decades of experience and a burning desire to bring to life the cream of TV comedy and Whitehall farces. This venture has since developed into the occasional serious, quality play. Another aim was to raise funds for various charities, their first production raised over $3,000 for the Leukaemia Foundation. This time, Serial Productions are once again supporting the WA Heart and Lung Transplant Foundation.
With around one production per year their shows are always a highlight of the Perth stage, with tickets in great demand. This a company of talented actors, each of whom has won a major Perth theatre award.
The scene: Present day in the London suburbs. Two flats a couple of miles apart.
The set: Designed and constructed by reliable and quality-driven, George Boyd. George learned the art of set construction whilst involved in Whitehorse Musical Theatre in Melbourne several years ago.
The stage is divided down the middle. To one side is George and Jessica’s trendy and luxurious flat: painted in a pale apple green with white woodwork. A door to the bathroom, another to the kitchen. Up a step to the front door with its Westminster chimes. The pictures on the wall are the works of French artists. The studded, grey velour couch is central in the room, with an amazing white drum coffee table. There is a steel and glass drinks serving area, with another for as a phone table.
In contrast, the other flat to the audience right, is an old-fashioned room with cream walls and doors. The dark wood furniture includes a crammed book cabinet and a wine cupboard. The wall is ‘adorned’ by a poorly placed mirror and a pencilled life drawing of a nude male. The curtains are a hideous leopard skin pattern. One door goes to the kitchen the other to the bedroom. The settee is dark leather.
Props and Set Dressing: Lesley Sutton with 15 yrs. experience, has done a superb job of matching the props and set dressing to the inhabitants. Lesly has been properties mistress for all the Serial Productions shows to date.
Lighting design: Shelly Miller’s design was spot on as always.
Lighting Operator: Brendan Tobin working well.
Sound designer and operator: George Boyd’s choice of soft, semi jazz background music was perfect.
Stage manager: Rob Warner
Middle-aged, paunchy Brian (Richard Hadler) has the chance of an affair with an attractive young woman, Wendy (Ellie Bawden), but has nowhere to take her. Thankfully, his best friend George (Andrew Govey), comes to the rescue. George’s wife, Jessica (Jacqui Weaver) is away on a working trip in America and so Brian can use their flat on a Wednesday afternoon whilst George goes to his darts match.
When Brian’s wife, Hilary (Kylie Isais) suggests that he tries jogging and buys him a bright red track suit for his park runs, Brian has the alibi and the opportunity.
Brian arrives at George’s flat and finds Wendy, hot and ready – unfortunately, within minutes of his arrival, George’s wife returns home a day early and catches them.
How will Brian talk his way out of that? What is George up to? Is he really playing darts?
The play’s director is Rob Warner, and even though he has been connected with Community Theatre for quarter of a century, it was only 5 years ago that he directed his first play – and immediately won a prestigious Finley Award for his work. Once again Rob has squeezed every ounce of humour from this riotous play. For Kylie and Andrew this is their second time appearing in this play. Kylie has ditched her old-man Joe, and in this play has got a young, rugged hunk, Richard.
The two male leads; Richard loves a dry comedy where he can use his hundred facial expressions and is in his element bringing chuckles to the audience. Andrew does brilliantly well with the blank, ‘what the heck is going on?’ look. A great team.
With most farces one door opens as a character is escaping from the room through another door; in this charade, one a few occasions both men are in the same room, with one unaware of the other endeavouring to make an ingenious escape. Novel and imaginative.
Ellie was wonderful as the young love who has no idea what is going on, and the lack brains to pick up on hints from others. Kylie on the other hand is very romantic and intelligent but seems to fall at every hurdle – a magical performance. Jacqui as the busy businesswoman is most perceptive but tries to remain quiet for friendship’s sake.
The chemistry of the whole cast was brilliant. The script in the first Act was a little wordy, but the last scene was a treasure when everyone’s world starts to fall apart. Farce is tricky to do well, this cast did extremely well. Just what everybody needs on a cold night in these depressing times, a good laugh guaranteed. Farce at its best.